The 2016 season is over for the Western Women’s soccer team, but the winning hasn’t ended yet.
The coaching staff, led by head coach Travis Connell, was named Staff of the Year by the National Soccer Coaching Association of America.
“We feel honored to receive the award,” Connell said. “The team has accomplished a lot this season and we have a great support staff that helps them achieve their goals.”
The award also recognized assistant coaches Claire Morgan and Jamie Arthurs, who are both former Western soccer players. The rest of the 2016 staff was made up of athletic trainer Lonnie Lyon, and former Western soccer player and volunteer, Joana Houplin.
“It was a tremendous honor to receive that award,” Morgan said. “We all complement each other really well. Travis does a really good job of allowing us to utilize our strengths as individuals to help make the team better.”
“Our players are fantastic, that’s the reason we do our job, because we enjoy interacting with the players we have.”
Western finished first in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and completed an undefeated season with an overall record of 24-0-1. Their season was capped off by winning the first NCAA Division II Women’s Soccer National Championship in school history.
Connell said with 26 players on the team, not every personality will connect with every personality.
“Having a diverse staff like we do that can motivate and encourage and challenge our players that have different personalities and different motivating factors makes us much more well-rounded,” Connell said.
Lyon, the team’s athletic trainer for the last 11 years, was also a big help during the season. The team could not perform the best they could if players missed crucial game time, Lyon said.
“[The players have a] burning desire to be the best players they can be at all times, which means [being] injury and pain-free,” Lyon said. “They were willing to do whatever it took to stay as close to 100 percent through the season as they could.”
“With the type of student athletes we currently have on the team, they’re all really motivated and driven individuals,” Morgan said. “They’re giving you everything they have, so you want to match their intensity and match their motivation.”
Team captain and junior defender Sierra Shugarts was named the Division II National Player of the Year by the NSCAA and nominated for the 2017 DII Honda Athlete of the Year by The Collegiate Women Sports Awards.
Shugarts said Connell has built a great coaching staff.
“I trust [the coaches] and I know we are all in this together,” Shugarts said. “It is very well deserved and they worked so hard to make this program so successful… I couldn’t imagine my experience without them.”
All current members of the coaching staff plan to continue being a part of Western’s Women’s soccer coaching staff next season and will continue to put their best efforts towards next season.
“Our players are fantastic,” Connell said.”That’s the reason we do our job, because we enjoy interacting with the players we have.”